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A rare cancer that forms in tissues of the small intestine (the part of the digestive tract between the stomach and the large intestine).
The most common type is adenocarcinoma (cancer that begins in cells that make and release mucus and other fluids). Other types of small intestine cancer include sarcoma (cancer that begins in connective or supportive tissue), carcinoid tumour (a slow-growing type of cancer), gastrointestinal stromal tumour (a type of soft tissue sarcoma), and lymphoma (cancer that begins in immune system cells).
The small intestine is part of the body’s digestive system, which also includes the esophagus, stomach, and large intestine. The digestive system removes and processes nutrients (vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, fats, proteins, and water) from foods and helps pass waste material out of the body. The small intestine is a long tube that connects the stomach to the large intestine. It folds many times to fit inside the abdomen.
The small intestine connects the stomach and the colon. It includes the duodenum, jejunum, and ileum.
The types of cancer found in the small intestine are adenocarcinoma, sarcoma, carcinoid tumours, gastrointestinal stromal tumour, and lymphoma. This summary discusses adenocarcinoma and leiomyosarcoma (a type of sarcoma).
Adenocarcinoma starts in glandular cells in the lining of the small intestine and is the most common type of small intestine cancer. Most of these tumours occur in the part of the small intestine near the stomach. They may grow and block the intestine.
Leiomyosarcoma starts in the smooth muscle cells of the small intestine. Most of these tumours occur in the part of the small intestine near the large intestine.
See the following summaries in the A-Z List of Cancers for more information on small intestine cancer:
Also called jejunal, ileal or ileocaecal NETs, these are the most common bowel NETs.
They tend to grow in slow motion and may cause symptoms - that are similar to irritable bowel syndrome or carcinoid symptoms - or not. As such, early diagnosis can be difficult and unfortunately small bowel tumours have often spread by the time a NET is diagnosed.
For more information on small bowel NETs, click here for a fact sheet by the NET patient foundation (UK).
Anything that increases your risk of getting a disease is called a risk factor. Having a risk factor does not mean that you will get cancer; not having risk factors doesn't mean that you will not get cancer. Talk with your doctor if you think you may be at risk. Risk factors for small intestine cancer include the following:
Signs and symptoms of small intestine cancer include unexplained weight loss and abdominal pain.
These and other signs and symptoms may be caused by small intestine cancer or by other conditions. Check with your doctor if you have any of the following:
Procedures that make pictures of the small intestine and the area around it help diagnose small intestine cancer and show how far the cancer has spread. The process used to find out if cancer cells have spread within and around the small intestine is called staging.
In order to plan treatment, it is important to know the type of small intestine cancer and whether the tumour can be removed by surgery. Tests and procedures to detect, diagnose, and stage small intestine cancer are usually done at the same time. The following tests and procedures may be used:
The prognosis (chance of recovery) and treatment options depend on the following:
For more information on Small Intestine Cancer click here
This link is to the National Cancer Institute (NCI) cancer website in the United States. There may be references to drugs and clinical trials that are not available here in Australia.
Page last updated: 21/06/2018